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Planning on what to wear in Egypt was not easy. In fact, after I got over the initial excitement of booking the trip, clothing was something I spent a long time worrying about. I scoured the internet for helpful tips and advice, but to be honest it just left me even more confused. Some articles indicated I should cover up as much as possible and consider even getting a hijab or at least bring a scarf to cover my hair during my stay. Others said it wasn’t really a big deal, and I could wear pretty much whatever I wanted. In the end I took a more conservative approach and just hoped for the best.

What to wear in Egypt

Thankfully, I chose wisely, but not everyone else did. While I wasn’t as covered up as the local women, I was significantly more modest than a few other tourists I came across along the way. Tiny jean shorts, cropped tops, and even some mini-skirts seemed to pop up at all the major temples I visited. I cringed inwardly as I watched these young women walk by, especially as I noticed the looks that they received from the Egyptians; both men and women.

Curious, I ended up asking my favourite tour guide, Abdul, how he felt as a local man to see women dressing provocatively.

“Honestly?” he told me, “Sure, go ahead. We don’t get to see that so it’s nice to look”. I had to laugh a little with him about that. After spending five days in his company and seeing him interact with both local women and tourists, I knew Abdul was a good one. He was kind, respectful, and not at all threatening. Despite passing several scantily dressed women, he never leered or lingered; he was a gentleman. However, he did admit that some women took it too far and that bothered him, especially at the ancient temples which, while no longer used for religion, are still sacred sites.

what to wear in Egypt

While Abdul may have been more progressive in his thoughts, not everyone was. In Cairo my brother and I had coffee with a couple of local men, one of which was quick to share his distaste for local women embracing more modern styles. He sneered as he spoke about them wearing jeans and makeup, unhappily claiming that Egypt has changed too much in the past five years. I have to admit, his anger made me uncomfortable, and if he was that put off by the local women in Cairo wearing eyeliner and jeans, I can’t imagine how he would treat the women dressed in more revealing outfits.

Needless to say, I felt good about choosing to go with a more conservative wardrobe for my visit. I didn’t end up covering my hair, but I never felt uncomfortable and even had a few positive comments from locals on my outfits. So, for any other women looking for inspiration on what to wear in Egypt to feel both comfortable and respectful, here’s what I recommend.

What to Wear in Egypt: T-Shirts over Tank Tops

Egypt can be really hot, especially as you go further south to places like Luxor, Aswan, and Abu Simbel. These places, however, are even more traditional than Cairo so skip the tank tops and wear a light t-shirt instead. It doesn’t need to be long sleeved, just make sure your shoulders are covered and that it’s not low cut; cleavage is a big no-no. ( My favourite travel t-shirt is the evolve top by encircled which washes and wears amazingly and can be styled in different ways.)

If you do wear a tank top (not going to lie, I brought two with me) wear something over it. A light sweater will do the trick (though it’s probably cooler just to wear the t-shirt, trust me) or a gauzy wrap to keep your shoulders covered.

One of my favourite tops for this trip was the Butterfly Wrap by Diane Kroe in the chiffon material. It was loose, light, and airy and kept me cool while exploring ruins in the hot summer sun. It also worked perfectly when I hit the beach in Dahab as a cover-up.

*Save $10 off your Diane Kroe order with promo code HANNAH10

What to wear in Egypt

What to Wear in Egypt: Sundresses with Leggings or Maxi Dresses

Sundresses are pretty common on women’s packing list, and there’s no reason why you can’t bring your favourite cute dress with you to Egypt; as long as you make it appropriate. Again, remember that your knees, shoulders, and chest need to be covered. This might mean wearing a light pair of leggings under your dress or adding a lightweight sweater or scarf to cover your shoulders.

I got a ton of compliments on my Marie Dress (jet set print) from Cherry Velvet. The zipped front meant I could have a higher neckline and the t-shirt style meant my shoulders were covered. I just wore a pair of black leggings underneath and voila! I was comfortable, cool, and appropriately covered. I even got a couple compliments from Egyptian women about how much they loved my outfit.

Maxi dresses and skirts are a good idea too, and may be cooler than pairing shorter dresses with leggings. Look for styles with ankle-length skirts and t-shirt type tops to be appropriately covered (something like this one). You could also do maxi skirts like this or, if you want something dressier (especially if you plan on taking a lot of photos) you might like something long and flowy like this one.

Bonus tip: Egypt can be quite breezy, especially out in the desert so be careful about shorter flowy skirts and dresses. Even mine blew up a few times making me extra grateful for my leggings underneath.

What to wear in Egypt

What to Wear in Egypt: Loose Pants

When it came to bottoms, I alternated between two pairs of loose pants. One of which was the baggy elephant style pant that’s so popular in Southeast Asia, the other just a wide leg black pant. Again, they were light and airy, didn’t hug my curves, and were super comfortable. If you don’t have a pair, you can order some elephant style ones online here or some wide-leg pants here.

I should also point out that neither quite covered my ankles (hooray for being tall) but that was never an issue. A couple times I even hiked the elephant pants, which had elasticized hems, up to just under my knees to make them more of a capri style; still not an issue. I think as long as your knees are covered and the focus isn’t on your booty, you will be fine.

What to wear in Egypt

What to Wear in Egypt: Jeans

Since we spent a day exploring Toronto before flying to Egypt, I did end up bringing a pair of jeans with me. Though, to be honest, I didn’t expect I would wear them; assuming they would be too tight and show off my ‘assets’ too much to be considered appropriate. However, I quickly found out that jeans, even skinny jeans, are ok in Egypt; so long as you have a longer top to pair with them, like this one. Many of the young local girls paired their skinny jeans with longer sleeved tunic-type tops that covered their bums similar to this one. I made sure to follow in their lead, pairing my jeans with longer, loose tops, and felt totally comfortable walking around. That being said, I saved them for the evening when it was cooler because it was way too hot for me to even consider jeans during the day.

Should Women Cover Their Hair?

Abu Simbel

This was another question I really worried about but the answer is no. Female visitors are not expected to cover their hair. That being said, if you want to, you can. Just make sure to do it in a respectful way, not just to be fashionable. 

Personally, I chose not to cover my hair in Egypt and had no major issues. After all, hiding my light hair isn’t going to camouflage the fact that I am clearly a tourist. I did make sure to keep my hair up though either in a ponytail, bun, or braid rather than wearing it down. Might be just me, but I thought that was a little more respectful. 

I do want to mention that I did meet a couple women who were very blonde which got them a lot of extra attention to the point where a few people just reached out to touch their hair. If this is the case, you may want to cover your hair for your own comfort. 

What to Wear in Egypt: Helpful Accessories

While not necessary, I do recommend a couple of these accessories as well to make travelling through Egypt a bit easier and to make you feel a little more comfortable and conservative in your dress.

  • Lightweight travel scarf with pocket– covers cleavage/shoulders + good for storing some money etc. Especially great for travel days.
  • Rashguard– if you are going to be hitting up Egypt’s beaches, rashguards are a great pick to not only help ward off the sun (nobody wants to burn on vacation!) but also to cover up a bit more.
  • Reef safe Sunscreen: Egypt has some gorgeous coral reefs so if you plan on being in the water please use a reef safe sunscreen to help protect the reefs and marine life.
  • Breathable socks: Because sweaty feet are gross
  • Anti-chafing balm: For those of us who suffer from the dreaded chub rub!
  • Bust-dust: Bye-bye boob sweat!
Psst: Wondering what my must-have travel items are? Here’s what you’ll always find in my bag.

What to Wear in Egypt: Final Considerations

Having travelled to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan, and Dahab, I felt like the clothing differed in each area, and what I wore depended on what I was doing. Being with a tour guide at the temples, filled with other tourists, was a bit less stressful than walking around local streets and neighbourhoods. I felt more conscious of being covered up during these times and though I didn’t bring any really tight clothing, I chose the loosest of my tops for the times I spent exploring the cities.

Dahab; a laid-back beach town on the Red Sea, was by far the most liberal when it came to deciding what to wear. Since I went for scuba diving, I always had a swimsuit on but I wouldn’t dream about walking around in that alone, and nor did anyone else. That being said I, and many others, wore shorts and tank tops over their swimwear while going to the beach, or walking along the main areas. While at the beach, bikinis were fine; though I did notice many women throwing a sundress or cover-up on over them once out of the water. Perhaps not necessary, but definitely a more comfortable option.

What to wear in Egypt

Finally, I feel like it’s important to note that I did travel with a man. I’ve heard mixed reviews on solo female travel in Egypt and while I had an amazing time, I know the fact that I had my brother with me did play a role. However, at the end of the day, whether you are travelling alone, with a man, or with other women, the most important thing to remember is to be respectful the local culture and mindful of your own personal comfort level when considering what to wear in Egypt. 

A Note on Travel Insurance in Egypt

Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine twice before (once for damaged luggage, once because I developed a lung infection while traveling). While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance. With prices starting at $37 for 4 weeks, they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.

What to Wear in Egypt

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49 Comments

  1. Caitlin on January 16, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Love this! Hopefully going there this year and was actually worrying about this exact thing!

    • Hannah Logan on January 16, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      Haha I totally understand! I’m glad this helps though!

  2. […] and my knees are covered but you can see my ankles. I try to think back to everything I read about how to dress in Egypt, were ankles ok? Unsure, I tug my pants a bit lower on my hips to add a little length. It will have […]

  3. […] Travellers to Egypt need to pack smart, especially the women. Egypt is hot, and can be roasting during the day. But, you also need to be respectful and cover up.  I wrote a packing guide to Egypt for women with suggestions on what to bring based on what worked we… […]

  4. Danielle Martinez on August 8, 2018 at 3:32 am

    When you went to Egypt, did you go with a tour group or did you plan the trip yourself? My husband and I are thinking of going and a lot of people suggest booking the trip with a tour group. We’ve traveled all over the world and we think we’ll be able to plan the trip and go just us two. What do you think? Thanks!

    • Hannah Logan on August 8, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      I planned our trip myself 🙂 I have a blog post on our itinerary and what we did if you check through my other Egypt content. It was easy enough! I do recommend a Nile River cruise though- it was the highlight.

  5. Kat on October 15, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    Thank you so much my husband and I are going to Egypt for our honeymoon and I was worried about this exact issue! Super helpful!!!

    • Hannah Logan on October 15, 2018 at 5:57 pm

      yay! so glad to help. Have an amazing honeymoon!!

  6. Jodelle on October 23, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Heading to Egypt in January and thinking about wardrobe. We are traveling in cooler weather so am planning loose pants and tunics that cover my bum. I had read that it was also good to cover elbows so have been looking for 3/4 sleeves but notice that you are often showing yours. Not an issue?

    • Hannah Logan on October 23, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      Nope! T-shirts were fine. As I say, I don’t recommend tank tops since shoulders should be covered but I had no issues with t-shirt length sleeves

  7. Mandy on December 3, 2018 at 5:33 am

    How did you find your tour guide? I am traveling to Egypt with a group of people (men and women) but have read so many blogs where people recommend getting a tour guide to lessen harassment,

    • Hannah Logan on December 3, 2018 at 9:15 am

      I used a few different guides. All were good, some better than others. I definitely agree that when we did have a guide, the locals didn’t try to sell us as much and, obviously, didn’t offer their guiding services. I recommend Get Your Guide if you are looking- that’s what I used to book in advance to make sure I got a REAL guide. Quite affordable too!

      • Mandy on December 3, 2018 at 9:25 am

        Okay, awesome! I will definitely look into that. Thank you for the quick reply 🙂

  8. Rose on January 4, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    Thank you so much this is extremely helpful! Thanks for putting in all the links too. A scarf with a pocket?! That is something I would’ve NEVER thought of!

    • Hannah Logan on January 4, 2019 at 8:01 pm

      It was definitely something I stressed over before I went so I’m glad other people are finding it helpful!

  9. Li on January 15, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    Thank you so much, I read various tripadvisor / lonely planet guides on what to wear as a woman and still had questions like ‘Are t-shirts long sleeved enough? Can I show my ankles by wearing cropped trousers? Will jeans be okay?’ and this answered all of them! This is the difference of getting real advice from a woman who was personally been, lived and seen. Thank you! Feeling much more relaxed about my trip and like I can at least leave the tags on some of the more conservative items I purchased just-in-case. Thanks!

    • Hannah Logan on January 15, 2019 at 11:01 pm

      Ugh I get you, girl, I had the exact same questions before I went. I’m so glad I helped you too!

  10. Anne on January 27, 2019 at 2:11 am

    I’ll be visiting Egypt, in the late Spring, with my Egyptian boyfriend. We’re planning to visit his parents & family, as well as doing some sightseeing.

    I’d rather err on the conservative side, although they appear to be very laidback.

    Could you please advise me re: clothing and polite behavior? I’m not certain of the customs in Egypt, and don’t want to offend anyone. I also don’t speak any Arabic.

    Should I offer with cooking, cleaning, and other household chores? I know, of course, that we will be staying in separate bedrooms. Is hugging or holding hands considered inappropriate at all time?

    Any advice that you can give me would be greatly appreciated!

    Sincerely,
    Anne

    • Hannah Logan on January 27, 2019 at 2:53 pm

      Hi Anne,
      I think if you follow the tips in this post in terms of clothing you’ll be good. As for behaviour- all I can say is public displays of attention seem to be a no-no. I didn’t see any among the local while I was there- not even hand holding. As for the rest I’m not sure- you’re best to ask your boyfriend for some tips on local customs.

  11. […] to have longer tops that covered past my elbows for certain places. Thanks to last year’s trip to Egypt, I knew how to dress conservatively but that was only for a part of Israel. The rest of Israel was […]

  12. Cheryl Stamford on February 7, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    Hi Hannah

    Just wondering about colors to wear. I had read that they prefer you not to wear too many bright colors together ? Obviously it was not an issue with your beautiful wrap.

    Cheers

    • Hannah Logan on February 8, 2019 at 2:51 pm

      I had no problems wearing colours!

  13. Samantha on February 9, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    These are fantastic tips! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I will be traveling with my husband in a few months – since you traveled with your brother, any tips on what to pack for men? What was comfortable for him to wear both from a cultural and weather perspective? Appreciate any insight you can share!

    • Hannah Logan on February 10, 2019 at 2:27 pm

      Hey Samantha,
      My brother wore cargo shorts and tshirts/polo shirts most of the trip. He did bring jeans for evening while it was cooler, then wore board shorts at the beach. I think the guys have it easier than women!

  14. Samantha on February 10, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    Ok, good to know! Thank you for the quick reply. I know what I pack is going to take a little more thought, but he seems pretty happy to know he doesn’t need to buy anything special. Great content on your sight – appreciate you sharing! Samantha

    • Hannah Logan on February 12, 2019 at 2:09 am

      Thanks Samantha! I hope you have an amazing trip!

  15. Tara on February 24, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you for these amazing tips. I’ll be headed to Egypt next month and have repacked numerous times to ensure I’m mindful of the culture. Your tips have really helped me narrow down my things to pack.

  16. Ann on March 13, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    Any issues with showing painted toenails from a modesty perspective? I’ve heard that dirt and dust is a concern, but I can’t find any mentions about bare toes offending anyone’s dress code expectations.

    • Hannah Logan on March 13, 2019 at 7:57 pm

      I had a pedicure and no problem. But I only wore flipflops on the ship and by the beach- not in the city so I’m no expert on that.

  17. Daphne on April 6, 2019 at 12:21 am

    Can you tell me how cold it gets at night? I’m travelling in May this year and wonder if I should bring a jumper with me? Thanks for the other suggestions, I was a bit concerned about Capri pants, but you’ve sorted that for me.

    • Hannah Logan on April 8, 2019 at 12:30 pm

      It depends on the season. I was there in November which is winter so it was a little cooler at night so I brought a sweater with me- nothing too heavy though.

  18. Dorette on April 19, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    Hey Hannah, thank you so much for the invaluable info – you answered a lot of questions that I have! I am traveling to Egypt 10-26-19 thru 11-04-19 – what dates were you there in November and what was the high temperature during the day (sorry if you already answered)? I am sure that I will have more questions as it gets closer to departure and will definitely use you as a resource! Have a great day beautiful!?

    • Hannah Logan on April 23, 2019 at 10:45 am

      Glad to help! I was there mid November for 2 weeks. Temperature really depended on where we were but it did get quite warm in most places 25C+ – Abu Simbel was REALLY Hot. Nights were cooler though so you will want a light sweater.

  19. Valene on July 26, 2019 at 4:02 am

    I am leaving in 1 week for 2 months in Europe and 1 month in Egypt and living out of a bag for that amount of time means you really have to choose wisely. Coming from Australia with a German background means I am used to a very different level of what is accepted and what is not. When I think about it there isn’t really anything that is not accepted where I come from.
    Your post has helped me so much as a young blonde woman travelling to Egypt and all the sceptical and positive comments and blogs you can read about Egypt can just leave you confused.
    This is truly the best insight I have had and matches my thoughts exactly where you need to be cautious but not to extreme lengths where you still can’t look nice in your travel memories!
    Thank you so much!!

    • Hannah Logan on July 29, 2019 at 10:59 pm

      You are going to have THE BEST time!! Im so excited for you and glad I could help!

  20. […] I’d already been to Egypt and Jordan, which are also Muslim countries, and was comfortable with my clothing choices there so […]

  21. Nancy Nelson on October 2, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    This is very helpful, thank you! Next week I’m traveling with a group to spend 3 days in Cairo then diving the Red Sea.

    I have been concerned about being respectful in my attire, although, as a 61 year old woman I have left very short skirts and shorts in the past. Did you happen to notice if there were different expectations of older women such as head coverings at most times, dresses/skirts vs. pants. Etc.

    Any thoughts you might have would be appreciated.
    Thank you

    • Hannah Logan on October 3, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      Glad to help 🙂
      More tourists dressed the same- very few tourists covered their heads with anything other than a hat in the desert to protect against the sun. Keep your shoulders/chest/knees covered and you will be just fine 🙂

  22. Tiffany on October 24, 2019 at 8:52 am

    This was very helpful. I’m going next week. I have three questions.

    1) Did all the places expect you to use mostly cash or could you use a credit card?
    2) Did you have any stomach issues? Sorry if that is too personal. One or two people mentioned issues with diarrhea.
    3) The hotel I’m staying in has a swimming pool. How did they feel about women being there in swimsuits?

    Thank you!

    • Hannah Logan on October 28, 2019 at 3:50 pm

      Hi!
      So you will definitely need cash. Credit card is not accepted anywhere. USD dollars are accepted or Egyptian pounds.
      I did have stomach issues at the end. I drank a frozen drink and I think it wasn’t filtered water for the ice cubes. I was fine with the actual food.
      If your hotel has a pool, you should be fine in a swim suit! It’s geared towards tourists and there for you to use 🙂

      • Tiffany on October 28, 2019 at 3:58 pm

        Oh no! I hope your stomach issues weren’t too bad. I’m vegetarian so I think my stomach is a little more sensitive. I will definitely watch what I eat and drink and bring some backup meds. Thank you. 4 days to go!

        • Hannah Logan on October 28, 2019 at 4:19 pm

          I’ve been sicker, and it was at the end so didn’t ruin the trip (just an unhappy flight home). Just avoid ice cubes, haha. I hope you have the BEST time!

  23. jackie keish on November 17, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    thank you for the great pictures and the information.. good travels to you

  24. Anita C Powell on February 24, 2020 at 10:34 am

    Hi, Hannah. Thank You so very much for this information…GREAT stuff!!! Thanx also for the travel insurance recommendation. I just signed up for it, only $45.60. WOW. Bless Your Heart. I’m so glad I came across Your information. Blessings Flow ~

    • Hannah Logan on February 25, 2020 at 1:22 pm

      Glad to help 🙂

    • Betsy Martinez on October 26, 2020 at 1:36 am

      Is leggings okay to wear with long loose t-shirts? Im not sure if I missed the info, but just wondering since it seems cooler than jeans to wear in the heat

      • Hannah Logan on October 26, 2020 at 8:23 am

        If it comes down to like mid-thigh I would say yes. Like a tunic-type spot. But if your butt is pretty visible in tight leggings you will most likely get some unwanted attention. If you are worried about heat, look for some loose, light-weight pants.

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